Worrying: American’s Favorite Pastime
Lately, I have been worrying a lot; about my professional growth and development, to thoughts of buying a house, these things plague my mind day in and day out. I am sure that my thoughts are not far from any other professional, entrepreneur or the like.
Worst case scenario is something a full time worrier loves to dwell in. What if I’m laid off in the next budget cut? What if I can’t land that next job on my professional climb? What if I can’t qualify for that mortgage?
I have recently had a telephone conversation with a peer and graduate classmate who is experiencing these same emotions. Our conversation started with the basic, “how are you?” and “how’s the weather?” and before we know it the conversation had divulged into a glorified worry fest. “Should I get a mortgage if I want to consider moving for a promotion in 3 years? How am I supposed to afford rent on my income? Did I make the right move accepting this promotion?” Whether you are in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, or into your retirement these are real scenarios we experience. These are the same feelings that your employees are thinking. These are the thoughts that are leading to resistance to the restructuring of your business or starting the journey into entrepreneurship. As mentioned in a previous blog resistance to change is rooted in exaggerated and irrational fear.
A way to mitigate fear is to talk about what you are fearful of and create a contingency plan. First, we have to be realistic about what it is we are fearful of. An example of this from Sacred Cows Make The Best Burgers, is a successful residential building contractor wanted to expand into the commercial sector. Every time she considered expanding the fear of failure deterred her from taking the leap. She was asked to rate her risk of failure on a scale of 1 to 10- if 10 equals certain failure. She rated it a 4 and at the maximum a 5. The contractor laughed at her own fear. Once she realized how irrational her fear of failure was she concluded the worst case scenario she would close up shop and go to work for her competitor. They would certainly hire her because she would bring her skills and contacts. “Fear exaggerates the perceived risk, making it seem much greater than it actually is. Reality testing corrects the distortion” (Kreigal, Brandt, 2011, p.199).
The contractor naturally created a contingency plan as part of her self-talk after her reality check. She put into action the “if…then” thought process. Take one of the questions from the conversation with my friend, “Should I get a mortgage if I want to consider moving for a promotion in 3 years?”, now let’s look at this with a contingency plan. “If I get a mortgage and receive an opportunity for a promotion in another state… I can try to sell the house. If for some reason I can’t sell the house and get rid of the mortgage I could turn it into an investment property”. This is what a contingency plan looks like. It is about staying one step ahead of your fear. Not being afraid to confront it and plan for it. Creating that contingency plan can lead to innovation and the realization of your biggest fear can be the catalyst to create change.
What would this look like for a business restructuring?
If fear resistance is a driving force in your employees not supporting the change within the company, have a “creative worrying” session. (Kreigal, Brandt, 2011) During this session, everyone would write down their fears, give their fears a reality check, then develop contingency plans for those fears. As the leaders of the team, your responsibility would be to boost your employees’ confidence in that they have the skills and potential to tackle the contingency plans. “A simple rule in coaching yourself or anyone else is Can-Do’s build confidence; Can’t Do’s increase fear (Kreigal, Brandt, 2011, p. 204). Focus your employee’s attention on the things they are already executing effortlessly in their lives and workplace. For example, remind them how they are meeting their quotas consistently or how they have managed and excelled in training for half marathons. These were skills and activities they had to work for. If they approach their plans from the perspective of already feeling accomplished their confidence will receive a significant boost.